Friday, 30 September 2011

Angle of Incidence by Christy Hayes

Angle of Incidence by Christy Hayes
First published as a Kindle ebook in 2011 (an electronic copy was provided from the author for review)

Description (from Goodreads)
Gwen Perry has the picture perfect life. Her Washington D.C. based photography business is booming, her husband's law career is lucrative, and after years of trying, they're only months away from the birth of their first child. 
While a nasty turn of fate leaves Gwen devastated, angry, and on the verge of depression, her husband Rob walks a dangerous tight rope. He's hiding something from Gwen that could destroy their marriage. But even the deepest secrets won't stay buried forever.
When Rob's past is revealed, Gwen agrees to join her college friend at the artists' retreat he's leading in Colorado despite the consequences to her marriage. But Rob's not the only one keeping secrets from the past and her trip down memory lane could burn the bridge leading her back home.

My thoughts
Angle of Incidence was a book that I wasn't sure what to expect of. The description was informative enough to make me want to read it, but not much more than that. So, when I started reading it, I was pleasantly surprised by both the story and character development, as well as the writing. I have read a few self-published books and what is most prominent about them was their rather obvious lack of proper revisions. While the writing was not perfect, it was definitely a lot better than other self published books I've read.

The story itself is good, despite the fact that it is about a pretty popular issue; marital problems. In this case, we have Gwen and Rob, a couple who have been together for years and they are - at the beginning of the novel - expecting their first child. But then, something happens and Gwen loses the baby, leading her to become a shadow of her former self, who can't even open up to her husband and share a little of her pain and anger. And as if losing a baby wasn't enough, new secrets begin to come to light, leaving Gwen betrayed and hurt, despite the fact that she also has secrets of her own she's never told anyone about.

The characters in this story were very well developed, despite the fact that sometimes what they said or did, did sound a little over the top. Gwen, for example, is an ok character. She has a good heart and is capable and strong, but her grief over her lost child sounded a little too over the top to me (I do not mean that losing a child should be easy to get over, just that the choice of words to describe what Gwen was going through at the time needn't have been so strong). Another thing that annoyed me a little about Gwen was the fact that she went on and on about how Rob betrayed her (through not telling her his secret), but then again, she hadn't told him hers. So it made her sound a little selfish and cruel and two-faced. Rob was a little better. He was trying to make the most of a bad situation foisted upon him and has no idea what to do to help his wife get out of the pit of despair and denial she has pushed herself into.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. One thing I especially liked in this book were the little photography related definitions at the beginning of each chapter, each one of which was chosen specifically for a certain chapter because of what was going on in it. I thought that was a lovely touch, especially since Gwen is a professional photographer. (Though having said that, I did notice that a few of them kept being repeated. Maybe it would have been better if each definition was only used once.)

Rating: 6/10

Christy Hayes is an American author from Atlanta, Georgia. She writes women's romantic fiction. She has been writing seriously since 2004 and made the decision to publish her novels independently in 2011. Other than Angle of Incidence, she has also written:

You can find out more about Christy Hayes and her books from her official website.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011

(Disclaimer: Anything stated in this review reflects my personal opinion of the book. Other than receiving a copy of the book for review purposes, I have not been compensated in any other way for what I have said.)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Let's Discuss Something: Banned Books Week

From what I've gathered, this week is Banned Books Week. Which according to Wikipedia is:

... an annual awareness campaign that celebrates the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books, and highlights persecuted individuals. The United States campaign "stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them" and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their own conclusions and opinions. The international campaign notes individuals "persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read." ...
So, basically, this week is a tribute to all those books that have been banned from time to time in different countries for reasons such as: "excessive use of racist vocabulary", "portrayal of certain behaviour as socially acceptable", "left-wing politics" and other very silly ones.

The banning of books is a really ridiculous notion. What better way to bring attention to a certain book other than banning it? And also, aren't we supposed to have freedom of speech? As in, everyone is allowed to freely talk about whatever he/she believes in, in whichever way he/she feels fit? And that we all have a choice in what we want to read or not read, as the case may be? Banning books takes away both our freedom to read whatever we want to read, as well as the author's freedom to talk about whatever he wants to talk about.

In Greece, we have a really great author, Nikos Kazantzakis. You may or may not know of him, but the fact remains that he is one of the best writers to have lived in Greece. (He was actually born in Heraklion, where I live and my house is not far from his grave.) But there was a bit of a problem; he decided to write a book called "The Last Temptation of Christ". And the Orthodox Church did not like that and prohibited his being buried in a cemetery after his death (which is why he is buried on the wall surrounding the city of Heraklion). What is remarkable about this, though, is the fact that even though the Church was not happy about what Kazantzakis had written, I am pretty sure the book was not banned in Greece (though, from what I know, it has been banned by the Roman Catholic Church). In fact, I was urged time and time again by my high school teachers to read the book in question, because it is a real masterpiece.

In my opinion, with the Orthodox Church prohibiting Kazantzakis' burial in a cemetery because of that particular book, they just drew the attention to it and made people want to read it and see for themselves what the whole fuss is about. So, as a general conclusion, banning a book will probably bring about the opposite effects than might have been expected by the people who actually banned it.

That was just an example from my school years. I can, at least, be thankful for the fact that, even though Greeks in general are pretty devout Orthodox Christians, all the teachers I had in school were very open minded and urged us to read books, despite of what the Church may have to say about them. But reading around some other blogs this past week, I have come upon some rather surprising news: apparently, Harry Potter is another book that has been subject to the "to ban or not to ban" question from various Christian groups (because of the fact that it has witchcraft, spells and potions, I suppose). I even read a comment saying that "there was a girl who was envious of everyone else reading the Harry Potter books, when she couldn't, just because her pastor had told her that if she read them she would go to hell". I was absolutely horrified when I read that. What kind of an idiotic and narrow-minded person says that to a child? It is my firm and irrevocable opinion that religion should have NO SAY in what we can or cannot read. Let the parents decide if their child is - at a particular age - ready to read something. Or - God forbid - just let the child choose for itself. Pastors, priests and other religious figures are not gods; they have no right to dictate what a person can read.

And now, I am going to stop that rant, because it is possible I might go a little off topic and start talking about religion. Thanks for taking the time to read it, though, if you did manage to get so far! Feel free to leave any comments on this post. Even if you have a different opinion to mine, I promise I won't bite! This post is here just so that we can discuss something interesting!


There has also been a list going around with the Top 100 Banned Books (just like the Top 100 YA books list that was going around a couple of weeks ago). And again, out of curiosity, I decided to see how many books out of those 100 banned ones I have read.
Which I don't think are very many.

So, let's see, shall we? (The ones I have read are in green)
And the grand total is........ 11!! (Good God, that's bad.... Though I've definitely got another 10 of them on my bookshelves right now, so maybe I should get round to them.)

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  6. Ulysses by James Joyce
  7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding 
  9. 1984 by George Orwell
  10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
  12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  13. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  17. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
  23. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  27. Native Son by Richard Wright
  28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
  38. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
  39. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
  40. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (I've only read the 1st one, so I'm not counting it)
  41. Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
  42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
  45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
  49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  51. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  52. Howards End by E.M. Forster
  53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  54. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
  55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  56. Jazz by Toni Morrison
  57. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
  58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  59. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
  62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  63. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  64. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
  65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
  66. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  68. Light in August by William Faulkner
  69. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
  70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  72. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
  74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  75. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
  76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
  77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
  78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias by Gertrude Stein
  79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
  80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  82. White Noise by Don DeLillo
  83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
  84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  85. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
  87. The Bostonians by Henry James
  88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
  90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  93. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
  94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
  95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  96. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
  99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
  100. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want To Reread

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by all the lovely people blogging over at The Broke And The Bookish.

This week's list is about our top ten books that we really want to reread. So, without further ado, here is my list of books!

How could Harry Potter not be on this list?? I have read each HP book three times already (which may not be many by other people's standards, but it is by mine) and I have reached the point where I feel that I have to read them again soon. (It's probably Pottermore's fault.)

I've only read this one once so far, but I absolutely loved it and I know I will be re-reading it in the future. Amazing book. Now I reminded myself, I must read his other book, too.

This is my absolute favourite of all the classics. I've read it a couple of times already, and I've seen both the BBC TV series and the film numerous times, but I would definitely not mind reading it again!

Another series which I absolutely loved. I am pretty sure I've only read it once though, so that must be rectified as soon as possible!

There's nothing like reading a bit of Bridget Jones' Diary to make you laugh when you're need it! Also, it does help a little that every time I read about Mark Darcy, I picture Colin Firth in my head (thank you, producers who chose him for that role).

Yeah, yeah, I know this is a children's book. But it is so, so good! And so, so cute! I don't even know how many times I've read it over the years, but I do know that I have to read it again!

The reason I haven't put the whole trilogy here is because I haven't actually read the whole trilogy, despite the fact that I absolutely loved Sabriel when I first read it years and years ago. So, I have made a big decision; I am going to order Lirael and Abhorsen (the next two books in the series) and then proceed to read them all. Sounds like a pretty good plan!

This book focuses on Spinalonga, an small island not very far from where I live, that used to be a leper colony until the 1950's. My grandmother had read it and loved it and then passed it on to me. I did eventually read it nearly a year after I first got my hands on it and, though I really, really enjoyed it, I haven't read it since!

I only found out about this amazing series this year when I started blogging, so I haven't had the chance to get to the point of wanting to reread it yet. But I definitely want to. It is so, so good!

I only read this one this year but it has rightfully earned a place on my list of favourite books. Definitely wouldn't mind rereading that one in the near future!

So yep, that's it from me. I know a few of them are books I've read recently, so it's not like I really want to reread them right now, but they are favourites and will definitely be reread in the near future! And yay! I got to 10!!

So, which books would you like to reread?? Let me know, so that I can try them out for myself if I haven't already read them!

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
First published by Three Rivers Press in 2011 (this edition by Headline Review in 2011)

Description (from Goodreads)
While in hiding at a remote convent, a king's daughter sees a magical being dragging a shipwrecked man to the shore. The creature is a mermaid princess - the youngest daughter of the Sea Queen - but she shares more with her human counterpart than her royal blood. By saving a young man's life, both women have sacrificed their hearts. In one moment, the lives of the princesses, mortal and mermaid, are transformed forever.

My thoughts
Mermaid is - as mentioned on the back cover - a re-invention of The Little Mermaid, a fairy tale that was written in 1837 by Hans Christian Andersen, a Dutch poet and author. So essentially, the plot follows the same path that the original story follows, with some additions here and there, which differentiate the story from the original and make it unique (despite the fact that the same story has been told before).

In this re-telling, we get to see the story unfold from the point of view of both princesses - the mermaid and the mortal. Each one gets her own fair share of chapters, so we experience the story as both the mermaid and the mortal princess. We get to understand what motives each one of them has for acting the way she does and that is very interesting to know; especially because of the fact that in the original fairy tale we do not get to hear the voice of the mortal princess.

The story is a sad one, because as it builds up you start to see the inevitability of certain events. For me, it was a little worse, because I've read The Little Mermaid a thousand times (ok, maybe not a thousand, but you know what I mean) and I knew what was going to happen. But Carolyn Turgeon added lots of new elements to the story, elements which I did not expect to be there, and which gave the story a completely different "air" and made me want to keep reading it to find out what exactly was going to happen next.

All in all, Mermaid a really good re-telling of a classic fairy tale and one that is definitely worth reading. Carolyn Turgeon is an excellent storyteller and knows how to make even a well-known story interesting again, by adding just the right details to turn it into a story of her own. I will be looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.

Rating: 8/10

Carolyn Turgeon is an American author. Other than Mermaid, which is her latest book, she has written another two novels: Rain Village and Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story. Godmother has been optioned for film and Mermaid is being adapted into one as we speak. Carolyn Turgeon has her first middle-grade book, The Last Full Moon, coming out in January 2012.

You can find out more about Carolyn Turgeon and her books from her WEBSITE (with the amazingly pretty graphics)!

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011

Monday, 26 September 2011

Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis

Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis
First published in Greek by Kastaniotis in 1992 titled ''Ο θείος Πέτρος και η εικασία του Γκόλντμπαχ'' (this edition by Faber & Faber in 2000)

Description (from Goodreads)
In the tradition of Fermat's Last Theorem and Einstein's Dreams, a novel about mathematical obsession.

Petros Papachristos devotes the early part of his life trying to prove one of the greatest mathematical challenges of all time: Goldbach's Conjecture, the deceptively simple claim that every even number greater than two is the sum of two primes. Against a tableau of famous historical figures-among them G.H. Hardy, the self-taught Indian genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, and a young Kurt Godel-Petros works furiously to prove the notoriously difficult conjecture. Decades later, his ambitious young nephew drives the defeated mathematician back into the hunt to prove Goldbach's Conjecture. . . but at the cost of the old man's sanity, and perhaps even his life.

My thoughts
I do realise that most of you probably won't be able to read the Greek I have put up there, but I thought I might as well show off a little bit and put a teensy weensy bit of Greek on my blog!

Just because I am extremely smart, I decided to read a book, that was first published in Greek, in English. If it were the other way around and you were telling me to read a Greek translation of an English book, I wouldn't do it easily or happily, because the majority of books that I have read in Greek have either been very bad translations of foreign books or boring Greek ones. (Do not get me started on some of the things Greek writers choose to write about. Plus, most times I find their language to be a little too show-off-y.)

Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture is one of those books that I have been hearing about for years and years. Though I am not a big fan of reading fiction in Greek, I do not mind reading books that deal with philosophy or mathematical logic in Greek. I think that is probably because of the fact that I went to a Greek school, so everything I know about maths and logic (and all that jazz), I know in the Greek way; I am more familiar with the terms, which means that it helps me to better understand what is going on. The thing is that we never had a copy of this book at home (that I know of, at least). I did know my Grandpa had one when I went to England this year and I promised myself I would read it this summer.

Before reading this book, I had only vaguely heard of Goldbach's Conjecture, but had never really bothered to find out what exactly this Conjecture was all about. Now, I consider myself a little more educated with the matter. The story focuses on the narrator's Uncle Petros, a recluse of sorts, who is considered to be a bit of a weirdo even by his own brothers, because he never showed any interest in anything except for his ''beloved" mathematics. The real story behind Uncle Petros' withdrawal from society was the fact that he had  become obsessed with proving Goldbach's Conjecture.

The book consists of three chapters (yes, three), each one surrounding a different time in the narrator's and Uncle Petros' lives. We learn of Uncle Petros' story through the narrator, who is an aspiring mathematician and turns to his Uncle Petros for advice and guidance. His story is truly intriguing and it shows how something (even in the form of a short mathematical equation) can take over your whole life. It is also rather sad at times, because you can't help but feel sorry either for the narrator or for Uncle Petros himself, depending on which part you are reading.

Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture is not a book for everyone. I am not trying to sound snobbish, but I know for fact that not many people like reading books about maths and mathematical logic. And it's completely understandable. Which is why there is going to be no urging to read this book. It is very well written and very interesting, but because of the fact that is it very mathematically oriented, it's not for everyone. But, if you are interested in reading a book about maths, this is an excellent book to read.

Rating: 8/10 

Apostolos Doxiadis was born in Brisbane, Australia, but grew up in Athens, Greece. Although interested in fiction and the arts from his youngest years, a sudden and totally unexpected love affair with mathematics led him to New York's Columbia University at the age of fifteen. He did graduate work in Applied Mathematics at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, working on mathematical models for the nervous system. He has also directed and written theatre plays, as well as films.

(This is one book I've been meaning to read for quite some time, but it's not very cheap so I haven't got round to buying it yet.)

You can find out more about Apostolos Doxiadis from his official website.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Declaration by Gemma Malley

The Declaration by Gemma Malley
First published by Bloomsbury in 2007 (this edition by Bloomsbury in 2008)

Book #1 in The Declaration series

Description (from Goodreads)

In the year 2140, it is illegal to be young.
Children are all but extinct.
The world is a better place.
Longevity drugs are a fountain of youth. Sign the Declaration, agree not to have children and you too can live forever. Refuse, and you will live as an outcast. For the children born outside the law, it only gets worse – Surplus status.
Not everyone thinks Longevity is a good thing, but you better be clear what side you’re on. . . . Surplus Anna is about to find out what happens when you can’t decide if you should cheat the law or cheat death. 

My thoughts
I'd seen this book somewhere a while back and rather liked the sound of it, so I decided to try reading it. When I bought it, I found it at the bargain price of £2.10 on Amazon, a fact that I was very happy about! You can't go wrong for that amount of money, can you?

The Declaration is set in the future, in the year 2140, at a time when it is illegal to be young. Sometime during the previous century, Longevity was invented. Longevity is a drug which halts the ageing process of the human body and thus, enables the taker of the drug to live forever. Because of the fact that people are not dying anymore, there is no room on the planet for new people, which essentially means that the new children that are born are very few (because people choose to sign the Declaration and take the Longevity drugs). The main character, Anna, is a child, but she is known as Surplus Anna; a child that was born to people who took Longevity drugs and still decided to have a child. Children like Anna are hunted down and are ''put away'' in halls, where they train so as to become in some way useful to the Legal people when they leave the halls.

The idea behind the story was very clever. You might think the whole thing sounds quite absurd, but what would you do if you were faced with a similar decision? If you had the opportunity of a much longer life, what would you choose? Would you choose to live ''forever''? Or would you want to give another generation (your children) the chance to live? 

Gemma Malley's writing is exceptional, as is her character building. Anna is a lovely character, clearly misguided during the first part of the novel, but she slowly grows into herself and reveals how strong she really is. I will admit to finding her refusal to admit to certain things irritating at first, but then I realised that's it's all part of the ''realisation'' process. Peter was also a great character, who also got irritating at times, especially when he sort-of assumed that he and Anna were destined for each other, even from the time he didn't actually personally know her. But he is so sweet and tries to show that he is fearless, when he really isn't.

One of the things I really liked about this book were the diary entries in the beginning of some of the chapters. These do have some significance - as is explained early on in the story - but for me they serve a different purpose; the one of finding out more about Anna. The diary is her story the way she wants it to be said, portraying her own thoughts and questions and that really helped with her character building. The story itself does get a little slow at times and a little too fast at others, but it is fairly obvious what this story is aiming at. The journey to that ''final destination'', however, is not that clear. There were a few times when things happened or were said and I was left with my mouth wide open (so to speak), because it just came out of nowhere!

The Declaration is a story with a very important message to tell and it one of those that are definitely worth reading. So, read it.

I'm definitely going to be reading the next two books in the series, as soon as I can get my hands on them.

Rating: 8/10

Gemma Malley is a British author of young adult novels. She studied Philosophy at university and after graduating, worked as a journalist. If you would like to find out more about her, you can read a short Q&A session she has on her blog (just click on the Q&A). She has also written:

The Resistance (Declaration #2)   |   The Legacy (Declaration #3)

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, Dystopia Challenge, 1st In A Series Challenge

In My Mailbox (17)

Hello everyone! In My Mailbox is a meme that is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, so we get the chance to share our new books for the week (bought, borrowed or won) with all the lovely bloggers out there!

No video this week, but then again, I haven't really been posting for some time... I do have a rather valid excuse, though! I was in Italy!!!!! (And I had an AMAZING time!)

And I am pretty sure I haven't done an IMM post in nearly a month. That's good, though, right?? As I am supposed to be on a book buying ban? But what's more, I didn't buy a single one of the books in this IMM post, either!! (I am so proud of myself! - And my Mum's happy, too!)


Books I was given as a present 
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Smoke Screen by Sandra Brown
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

Books from swaps
Jessica's Guide To Dating On The Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Books I won
The Predicteds by Christine Seifert

So, what did you get in your mailbox/postbox this week?? 
(Please leave a comment!)

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
First published (in the UK) by Weidenfeld and Nicholson in 1997 (this edition by Phoenix in 2008) - First published in German in 1995 as ''Der Vorleser''

Description (from the back cover)
For 15-year-old Michael, a chance meeting with an older woman leads to far more than he ever imagined. Before long they embark on a passionate, clandestine love affair which leaves Michael both euphoric and confused. For Hanna is not all she seems.

Years later, as a student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to find Hanna in the dock. The woman he loved is a war criminal. Much about her behaviour during the trial does not make sense. Hanna must answer for a horrible crime, but she is desperately concealing an even deeper secret.

My thoughts
As most (if not all) of you will know, The Reader was made into a film in 2008, starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, which was hugely successful and which resulted in a Oscar for Kate Winslet. The film is really well made and the performances from Winslet, Fiennes and David Kross (who plays the young Michael) are exceptional.

So, in this case, I did things the other way around; I watched the film before I read the book. I know many people do not like doing that, but I don't really mind doing things in the wrong order. Sometimes, I even prefer it (as in the case of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, where I am sure that had I read the book before watching the film, I wouldn't have enjoyed the book as much as I did). The Reader was somewhere in the middle and by that I mean that it didn't really make much difference that I watched the film first, because the book was so easy to read. The story was rather short and very well written, but the translation was also one of the best translations I have ever read. It felt to me as if the book had actually been written in English.

In this book, we follow the story of Michael, a young boy who meets an older woman named Hanna and embarks on a love affair with her, despite their large difference in age. The story is split into three parts; in the first, we learn about the actual affair at the time it is happening; in the second, Michael is at university and is witnessing Hanna's trial firsthand; and the third is set many, many years later, but I'm not going to tell you what it's about, just in case you haven't read the book or seen the film, but are planning to.

Excellent portrayal of characters, lovely descriptions of places and circumstances. You can understand the motives between each person's decisions and, though they might seem a little extreme, you can see there is some amount of logic behind them. The Reader is a very sad story in general, but it is definitely one worth reading.

Rating: 8/10

Berhard Schlink is a German jurist and writer. He became a judge at the Constitutional Court of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1988 and has been a professor of public law and the philosophy of law at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany since January 2006. His second book, The Reader, a partly autobiographical novel, has been translated into 39 languages and was the first German book to reach the number one position in the New York Times bestseller list.
Other books include:

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011

Friday, 16 September 2011

Top 100 YA Books

These past couple of days I noticed that some other bloggers have been doing posts titled "Top 100 YA Books". After rummaging around a little, I found out that this 'Top 100 YA books' list was created by Word Fiend and All the Days of and I decided, just out of curiosity, to see how many books on that particular list I have read. Which I don't think will be very many, because I read a lot of books, both YA and adult.

I do think that there are a few books missing on this list... For example, The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa, The Declaration series by Gemma Malley, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, to name a few. But still, the list has a pretty good selection of books on it, so I'll just go ahead...!

So let's see, shall we?

The books I have read have been marked in bold.
And the ones that I am planning on reading in the near future are in dark red.

I've read 32/100 and, including every book in series, 89 books. Ha, that's much better than I thought it would be! So, which ones have you read? 

  1. Alex Finn – Beastly
  2. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
  3. Ally Carter – Gallagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)
  4. Ally Condie – Matched
  5. Alyson Noel – The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  6. Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills
  7. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  8. Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4)
  9. Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
  10. Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  11. Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
  12. Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)
  13. Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  14. Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  15. Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)
  16. Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
  17. Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3, 4)
  18. Christopher Paolini – Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)
  19. Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
  20. Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)
  21. Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3)
  22. Ellen Hopkins – Impulse
  23. Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  24. Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
  25. Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)
  26. Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
  27. Gail Carson Levine – Fairest
  28. Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3)
  29. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  30. James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2)
  31. James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  32. Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
  33. Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)
  34. Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  35. John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  36. John Green – An Abundance of Katherines
  37. John Green – Looking for Alaska
  38. John Green – Paper Towns
  39. Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)
  40. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
  41. Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)
  42. Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)
  43. Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)
  44. Lemony Snicket – Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
  45. Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)
  46. Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
  47. Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  48. M.T. Anderson – Feed
  49. Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)
  50. Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  51. Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3)
  52. Markus Zusak – The Book Thief
  53. Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger
  54. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
  55. Mary Ting – Crossroads
  56. Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)
  57. Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)
  58. Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  59. Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  60. Meg Rosoff – How I Live Now
  61. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  62. Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)
  63. Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road
  64. Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  65. Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  66. Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2, 3, 4)
  67. Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion
  68. Neal Shusterman – Unwind
  69. Neil Gaiman – Coraline
  70. Neil Gaiman – Stardust
  71. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
  72. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
  73. Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)
  74. Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  75. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  76. Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  77. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  78. Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere Carnal Over 40 Winks
  79. S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
  80. Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
  81. Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
  82. Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key
  83. Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever
  84. Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  85. Scott Westerfeld – Leviathan (1, 2)
  86. Scott Westerfeld – Uglies (1, 2, 3)
  87. Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days
  88. Shannon Hale – Princess Academy
  89. Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)
  90. Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  91. Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
  92. Stephenie Meyer – The Host
  93. Stephenie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)
  94. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
  95. Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
  96. Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3)
  97. Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  98. Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
  99. Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
  100. Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped
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